Fences are susceptible to all weather and elements, therefore if you want your fence to look great and stay strong for many years you should protect it from weather as much as you can. To do so, it is important to first understand the top causes of a rotting fence. That way you can combat the situation. You can also look into better materials as well.
Top Causes of Fence Rot
Home Improvement Writer: Kathy Hatter
Because installing a fence involves significant effort and expense,
it’s important to choose the best materials for your fence to ensure
that it stays structurally strong and attractive. One of the most common
issues with an existing fence is decay or rot of the fencing materials.
Because wood fence materials have direct contact with the soil over a
long period of time, it’s imperative that you take steps to prevent
decay. Once you know the top causes of fence rot, you’ll be ready to
minimize and eliminate issues that could threaten the integrity of your
Overview of Fence Threats
A wood fence has two significant threats that will affect its
strength and stability — dry rot and wet rot. Dry rot involves the loss
of protective oils over the wood surface, which causes the wood to dry
out and become brittle. Wet rot involves moisture continually contacting
the wood — usually at the points where fence posts contact the soil.
Types of Wood
The type of wood you choose for a fence has a significant impact on
how the fence withstands environmental factors. Some wood is very hard
and resistant to decay, while other types of wood are soft and will not
resist decay as effectively. Types of hard woods well suited for fences
include cedar, cypress, oak and redwood. Types of wood that are slightly
less dense include Douglas fir, tamarack and pine.
Wood with pressure treatments have chemicals forced into the wood to
create deep protection against both insects and decay. To analyze
pressure treated wood for durability, check the stamp or label that
shows certification. The stamp should specifically show pressure
treatment for ground use if you’ll be using the wood for fence posts.
Wood with a stamp showing “above ground use” will not resist decay if
you use it for fence posts.
Protecting and Staining Wood
Apply a protectant and stain over the surface of the wood to create
an effective barrier against moisture. It may be necessary to reapply
the stain annually to maintain an effective moisture barrier. You can
test the wood to see whether it needs a fresh application of stain by
sprinkling water over the wood surface. If the water forms beads on the
surface and does not penetrate down into the wood, you know the barrier
is still working effectively. If the water absorbs down into the wood,
this indicates that you need to apply more stain to the fence to protect
Keeping the Fence Clean
The accumulation of debris on and around a fence can
contribute to fence rot. Never allow a pile of leaves to accumulate
around fence posts and under fence slats. If debris accumulates in
crevices, including dirt and soil in cracks, wash or brush it away to
prevent decay. Allowing debris to accumulate on the wood may also invite
insect infestations, which can damage a wood fence.
Protect your investment and keep your fence strong and attractive for many years.